R2P Monitor, Issue 6, 15 November 2012
Provides background on populations at risk of mass atrocity crimes, with particular emphasis on key events and actors and their connection to the threat, or commission, of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Offers analysis of the country’s past history in relation to mass atrocity crimes; the factors that have enabled their possible commission, or that prevent their resolution; and the receptivity of the situation to positive influences that would assist in preventing further crimes.
Tracks the international response to the situation with a particular emphasis upon the actions of the United Nations (UN), key regional actors and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Suggests necessary action to prevent or halt the commission of mass atrocity crimes.
Populations in Syria continue to face mass atrocity crimes committed by state security forces and affiliated militias. The increasingly sectarian nature of the civil war puts civilians at even greater risk.
After twenty months of continuous violence in Syria, civilians remain the primary victims of a conflict that has escalated into a civil war. Although documented figures vary, it is estimated that the death toll now exceeds 30,000 people. While the Syrian government continues to target opposition strongholds using artillery, tanks, helicopters and fighter jets, it has also indiscriminately shelled and bombed residential areas, in some cases with cluster munitions. Snipers and allied “shabiha” militias have also been deployed to attack communities, committing large-scale massacres in several towns. One such incident, on 26 September on the outskirts of Damascus, reportedly claimed over 300 lives.
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC)-mandated Commission of Inquiry (CoI) has reported that government forces and allied “shabiha” militias continue to commit crimes against humanity, war crimes and gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law as a matter of state policy. The CoI reported that armed opposition groups have also committed war crimes, albeit on a smaller scale than that of the government.